Two Perspectives on the National Broadband Plan: The Man Who Wrote the Plan Meets the Man Who Wrote the Book

Monday (Feb 7) offers a good runup to the FCC’s public comment process that starts with the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Feb. 8, and allows us, the governed, to say how we feel about the FCC’s plans to reform the Universal Service Fund. On Monday, Blair Levin, chief architect of the National Broadband Plan, and I discuss our similar and differing views on said Plan.

Moderating this Meet the Press-type discussion are The Wall St. Journal’s technology policy reporter Amy Schatz, GigaOm’s News Editor Stacey Higginbotham and the Washington Post’s technology policy reporter Cecilia Kang. GigaOm and the New America Foundation are hosting this event at New America’s DC Office. Questions also will be fielded from the live and online audiences.

The FCC’s NPRM is where the rubber meets the road for this key recommendation of the Plan, a reform that likely will lead to billions more dollars per year becoming available to bring broadband into un- and underserved communities. With this much money involved, you best be believing that the big incumbents want a say in the process.

Battlelines are being drawn within the industry. Propaganda machines are primed. This reform is going to be difficult to miss as it unfolds. But how is this going to affect people in the communities where they work and live? Blair and I will articulate several of the main discussion points and potential impacts of the reform efforts as well as the Broadband Plan in general.

Those who believe in broadband, those heartened by President Obama’s vision for broadband but wonder how we’ll get there from here, and the local public, business, nonprofit and consumer constituents getting broadband done should tune in Monday. Figuring out which end is up in this national drive for broadband is going to be a mother, but the stakes are too high to ignore the circus.

There are quite a few elements of the Plan that Blair and I agree on, but we have our differences on a couple of what I consider bedrock broadband strategic issues: network speed, lack of competition, who foots the bill for the technology. The discussion should be lively, but more importantly it should shed light on what the paths are that potentially lead us from here to there.

What do you think are the primary questions both of us should address? If you had the power to snap your fingers and un-snarl the Gordian Knots that are the USF’s more complex programs, how would the reformed program look? What aspects of the Plan do you feel should have priority?

The session starts at 10:00 a.m. EST. You can attend in person if you’re in the DC area, or you can log in and catch it live online. Either way, don’t miss this highly informative event. Register today.


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